Our theory of change

Our institutional theory of change underpins the delivery of our 2019-2024 strategy and sets out how we develop propositions that improve communication, generate evidence and build capacity in order to drive change in policy and practice.

A theory of change explains how change happens, and how interventions can shape that change. An effective theory of change helps to guide the development of evidence-based programme strategies, informs project monitoring and management and provides a framework for evaluation and impact assessment.

IIED introduced its theory of change in 2014. The framework identifies three types of change, linked to the strategic challenges the institute has identified:

  • Intermediate outcomes (as shown in the diagram) are the desired changes that can be directly attributed to IIED activity
  • Longer term outcomes (as shown in the diagram) are the changes to policy, practice, voice and agency generated by the combined effects of IIED intermediate outcomes, and
  • Impacts relate to the sustained changes produced either directly or indirectly by the combination of several IIED interventions.

Longer-term outcome areas

Strategic challenges

Intermediate outcome areas

Equitable and effective governance

Global governance and national implementation of Paris climate agreement and the SDGs

Implementation of national and local policies for sustainable and equitable natural resource use, economic governance and urban transitions

Increased resources for people living in poverty and exclusion

More effective, better targeted and governed flow of climate finance, ODA, and private finance to poor women and men

Improved ability of people living in poverty and exclusion to access formal and informal markets, and livelihoods opportunities.

Strengthened voice and rights of people living in poverty and exclusion

Local actors and their organisations are better able to exercise rights and influence decision making

Governance systems recognise the rights of the marginalised and are responsive to their needs

With partners,

IIED improves connections, interactions and power dynamics between different actors

Community actors

International agencies

Increasing inequality

National and local governments

Influencers

The climate crisis

Research and knowledge brokers

Civil society organisations and federations

An assault on

the natural world

Propositions for change

With partners,

IIED improves different actors’ capabilities to create and use evidence

With partners,

IIED generates new types of evidence to support sustainable development

Increasing urban risk

Unsustainable markets

Investors

Businesses

Producer organisations

Strategic challenges

An assault on the natural world

Increasing inequality

The climate crisis

Increasing urban risk

Unsustainable markets

Intermediate outcome areas

With partners,

IIED improves connections, interactions and power dynamics between different actors

Community actors

International agencies

National and local governments

Influencers

Research and knowledge brokers

Civil society organisations and federations

Propositions for change

With partners,

IIED generates new types of evidence to support sustainable development

With partners,

IIED improves different actors’ capabilities to create and use evidence

Investors

Businesses

Producer organisations

Longer-term outcome areas

Equitable and effective governance

Global governance and national implementation of Paris climate agreement and the SDGs

Implementation of national and local policies for sustainable and equitable natural resource use, economic governance and urban transitions

Increased resources for people living in poverty and exclusion

More effective, better targeted and governed flow of climate finance, ODA, and private finance to poor women and men

Improved ability of people living in poverty and exclusion to access formal and informal markets, and livelihoods opportunities.

Strengthened voice and rights of people living in poverty and exclusion

Local actors and their organisations are better able to exercise rights and influence decision making

Governance systems recognise the rights of the marginalised and are responsive to their needs

Strategic challenges

An assault on the natural world

Increasing inequality

The climate crisis

Increasing urban risk

Unsustainable markets

Intermediate outcome areas

With partners,

IIED improves connections, interactions and power dynamics between different actors

Community actors

International agencies

National and local governments

Influencers

Research and knowledge brokers

Civil society organisations and federations

Propositions for change

With partners,

IIED improves different actors’ capabilities to create and use evidence

With partners,

IIED generates new types of evidence to support sustainable development

Investors

Businesses

Producer organisations

Longer-term outcome areas

Equitable and effective governance

Global governance and national implementation of Paris climate agreement and the SDGs

Implementation of national and local policies for sustainable and equitable natural resource use, economic governance and urban transitions

Increased resources for people living in poverty and exclusion

More effective, better targeted and governed flow of climate finance, ODA, and private finance to poor women and men

Improved ability of people living in poverty and exclusion to access formal and informal markets, and livelihoods opportunities.

Strengthened voice and rights of people living in poverty and exclusion

Local actors and their organisations are better able to exercise rights and influence decision making

Governance systems recognise the rights of the marginalised and are responsive to their needs

Strategic challenges

An assault on the natural world

Increasing inequality

The climate crisis

Increasing urban risk

Unsustainable markets

Intermediate outcome areas

With partners,

IIED improves connections, interactions and power dynamics between different actors

Community actors

International agencies

National and local governments

Influencers

Research and knowledge brokers

Civil society organisations and federations

Propositions for change

With partners,

IIED improves different actors’ capabilities to create and use evidence

With partners,

IIED generates new types of evidence to support sustainable development

Investors

Businesses

Producer organisations

Longer-term outcome areas

Equitable and effective governance

Global governance and national implementation of Paris climate agreement and the SDGs

Implementation of national and local policies for sustainable and equitable natural resource use, economic governance and urban transitions

Increased resources for people living in poverty and exclusion

More effective, better targeted and governed flow of climate finance, ODA, and private finance to poor women and men

Improved ability of people living in poverty and exclusion to access formal and informal markets, and livelihoods opportunities.

Strengthened voice and rights of people living in poverty and exclusion

Local actors and their organisations are better able to exercise rights and influence decision making

Governance systems recognise the rights of the marginalised and are responsive to their needs

Strategic challenges

An assault on the natural world

Increasing inequality

The climate crisis

Increasing urban risk

Unsustainable markets

Intermediate outcome areas

With partners,

IIED improves connections, interactions and power dynamics between different actors

Community actors

International agencies

National and local governments

Influencers

Research and knowledge brokers

Civil society organisations and federations

Propositions for change

With partners,

IIED improves different actors’ capabilities to create and use evidence

With partners,

IIED generates new types of evidence to support sustainable development

Investors

Businesses

Producer organisations

Longer-term outcome areas

Equitable and effective governance

Global governance and national implementation of Paris climate agreement and the SDGs

Implementation of national and local policies for sustainable and equitable natural resource use, economic governance and urban transitions

Increased resources for people living in poverty and exclusion

More effective, better targeted and governed flow of climate finance, ODA, and private finance to poor women and men

Improved ability of people living in poverty and exclusion to access formal and informal markets, and livelihoods opportunities.

Strengthened voice and rights of people living in poverty and exclusion

Local actors and their organisations are better able to exercise rights and influence decision making

Governance systems recognise the rights of the marginalised and are responsive to their needs

Our theory of change (illustrated above) is built around three intermediate outcome areas:

  • Generating new types of evidence to support sustainable development
  • Improving connections and interactions between different types of actors
  • Improving capacities of actors to create and use evidence.

These intermediate outcome areas are the means by which we address the global challenges we have identified in our strategy (2019-2024), and will contribute to the achievement of longer-term outcomes and impacts. 

The longer term outcomes relate to equitable and effective governance, increased resources for people living in poverty, and strengthened voice and rights of excluded and less powerful actors.

Applying our theory of change

Our institutional theory of change will guide us in developing detailed theories of change at programme and project levels. These nested theories of change will inform our new Learning and Impact framework and enable us to be more systematic and strategic in monitoring our impact. 

Narrative

We believe that policy and social change are not rational and linear processes. Instead, they emerge from many different angles of influence and types of knowledge creation and are shaped by imbalances in power and voice. Our assumption is that changes in the body, use and framing of knowledge can help shape policy and practice at different levels, from local to global. 

For this to happen, we need to ensure that a range of relevant people and parties are strategically engaged in knowledge generation: decision makers, local communities, influencers, communication and knowledge brokers, and researchers. 

To ensure this engagement is effective, we work in ways that question and change power dynamics between the different actors involved. Our 'co-creation' approach results in powerful propositions that bring about changes in policy and practice.

Our key ways of working include:

  • Convening dialogues for transformative change: our multi-stakeholder dialogues connect communities lacking voice and power with decision makers - including government, development practitioners, business, academics and technicians. We facilitate the co-creation of evidence with local people, reflecting their concerns and helping to make the case for embedding social and environmental justice in policy and practice.
     
  • Engaging practitioners and policymakers: we identify strategic opportunities for policy intervention at local, national and global levels. IIED has a track record of working with decision makers to strengthen their capacities for creating and using evidence and help them reflect ground-level realities in policy.
     
  • Providing evidence and ideas to transform policy and practice: action research with local actors and partners enables us to develop practical solutions that support pro-poor governance. Together, we present policymakers and the private sector with a rigorously researched evidence base for fairer ways forward, from local to global scale.
     
  • Empowering the excluded: we help overlooked people and communities to generate and use evidence and hold their own in decision-making arenas.